Unfortunately for Amy Adams, the title, Julie & Julia, is a slight exaggeration on the importance of her character to the film. It would be a better representation if it was something along the lines of: Julia Child and Why She Deserves to Have Some Random Woman Dedicate A Year of Her Life to Her. But I guess that has too many words to fit nicely on the poster…
It is not that Amy Adams does not do a great job with the role she is given, but when competing with Meryl Streep’s Julia Child, it is no question that Adams is going to lose. Throughout the film Streep paints a portrait of the eccentric woman that Child was, using her mannerisms, voice, personality, insecurities and cooking prowess to do so, something which any lesser actor could have turned into a caricature.
Filling out the roles around Streep is a great supporting cast, including Stanley Tucci as Julia’s husband, Chris Messina as Julie’s husband, and Linda Emond as Child’s friend and co-writer of the cookbook that is the centerpiece of this film. Though Adams’ name is on the poster next to Streep’s, her character fits more in the supporting role classification than as a lead. Again, let me reiterate that this is no fault on Adams’ part, but unfortunately her role is written in such a way that it seems like an afterthought, or a means to which we can hear more about Child. Not only does she seem one sided in her obsession with Child, but the aspects about her life that do not actually concern Child seem underwritten. For one thing, there are a bunch of scenes with Julie griping about being seen as a B***h (that’s right mom, not gonna catch me using no-no words today!), but I can not remember any moment prior to this that she seems this way. Sure she complains about mistakes she makes in the kitchen (which I would have liked to see more of) and the tiny apartment she shares with her husband, but still. I wouldn’t start flinging names around. Which is also why later in the film I was blindsided when her husband gets so upset that he storms out of the apartment. It just seems so unwarranted.
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part Julie & Julia is a really entertaining movie; however, when it was done I found myself feeling a little unsatisfied. Now a lot of it was because I was dumb enough to go see a movie about food on an empty stomach, but most of it was actually because of how the film ends. (Spoiler alert! Skip to last sentence of paragraph to avoid it) First of all, Julie gets a call close to the end of the film from a man who informs her that Child hates her, Julie broods about this for a minute, and then we never hear about it again. It never gets explained further. But my main complaint is that this movie doesn’t have a satisfying ending; instead, it just ends because Julie completes what she set out to do.
Though the script could do with a little more work to make the two title characters of equal importance, this does not keep it from being a really great film. If anything, go see it to see Streep shine in her role as Julia Child. Just make sure you eat first.
Final Grade: B